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E05643: The Miracles of Saint Thekla recounts how *Thekla (follower of the Apostle Paul, S00092) travels from Seleucia to attend her festival at Dalisandos (also in Isauria). In a similar way, *Paul (the Apostle, S00008) is said to travel from Rome to the festival in Tarsos, his hometown. Thekla has also rescued Dalisandos when besieged, having appeared on the nearby peak, dazzling the eyes of the enemies. Written in Greek at Seleucia ad Calycadnum (southern Asia Minor) in the 470s.

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posted on 04.06.2018, 00:00 by julia
Miracles of Saint Thekla, 26

There is a city of Dalisandos in Asia Minor which fell into oblivion, but still retains some fame because of the martyr Thekla who honoured it and performed miracles for the sake of it.

Καθ’ ἣν γὰρ τιμᾶται πανήγυριν ἡ παρθένος—λαμπρὰ δὲ αὕτη καὶ περίσημος καὶ πολυάνθρωπός ἐστιν, ὡς ἂν καὶ πολλῶν πανταχόθεν εἰς αὐτὴν συρρεόντων—, εἴ τις φυλάξει κατὰ τὴν ἱερὰν νυκτεγερσίαν αὐτῆς τῆς ἑορτῆς ὑπὲρ τὴν ἀκρώρειαν τοῦ κατ’ αὐτὴν ὄρους ἀνεστηκώς, ὃ πρὸς ἕω μὲν τὰ νῶτα, πρὸς δὲ δύσιν τὴν ὄψιν κέκτηται, γενόμενος δὲ αὐτόθι καὶ ἀγρυπνήσας ὁρᾷ πυρίνῳ ἅρματι ὑψοῦ τοῦ ἀέρος βεβῶσάν τε τὴν παρθένον καὶ διφρηλατοῦσαν, καὶ οἴκοθεν οἴκαδε ἐπειγομένην ἀπὸ τῶν κατὰ Σελεύκειαν ἐπ’ ἐκεῖνο τὸ νυμφευτήριον, ὃ ἀγαπᾷ τε μᾶλλον τῶν ἄλλων μεθ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ περιέπει καὶ τέθηπεν, ὡς ἐν καθαρᾷ τε καὶ ἀμφιδεξίῳ καταγωγῇ κείμενον.

Τά τε γὰρ ἐν αὐτῇ δένδρα πολλά τε καὶ ὑψηλὰ καὶ ἀμφιλαφῆ καὶ ἀμφιθαλῆ καὶ καλλίκαρπα, αἵ τε αὖ πηγαὶ πολλαί τε καὶ χαριέσταται, καὶ μάλα ψυχροῦ ὕδατος, ἐξ ἑκάστου φυτοῦ τε καὶ πέτρας, ὡς εἰπεῖν, ἑκάστης ἐκθέουσαί τε καὶ διαρρέουσαι καὶ αὐτὸν περιθέουσαι τὸν νεών, τό τε εὔπνουν τοῦ τόπου ὡς πολύ τε καὶ λιγυρὸν καὶ ἀγαπητόν, ἥ τε ὑπὲρ κεφαλῆς ᾠδὴ τῶν ὀρνίθων ὡς μάλα θαυμασία τε καὶ καταθέλξαι ἱκανὴ οὐκ ἀνειμένον μόνον ἤδη καὶ τρυφηλόν, ἀλλὰ γὰρ καὶ κατηφῆ καὶ κατεστεναγμένον ἄνθρωπον, ἥ τε πόα πολλή τε καὶ δαψιλὴς καὶ πολύχρους ἐπικεχυμένη τῇ γῇ, καὶ ἐναναπαύεσθαι παντὶ παρέχουσα, καὶ ἀνδρὶ καὶ γυναικὶ καὶ παιδίοις ἀθύρουσι καὶ βοσκήμασι νεμομένοις, ἔτι μὴν καὶ ἐπιχορεῦσαι βουλομένοις καὶ ἐνσκιρτῆσαι φαιδρότατα, θοινήσασθαί τε προθυμουμένοις καὶ ἐμφαγεῖν θυμηρέστατα, ἤδη δὲ καὶ νοσοῦσι πρὸς ὑγίειαν μόνον ἀπέχρησεν.

Ὡς οὖν καὶ τὴν πανήγυριν ἐποψομένη, καὶ πρὸς οὕτως εὔδαιμον καὶ αὐτῇ μόνῃ πρέπον ἐπειγομένη χωρίον, ἑκάστου ἔτους καὶ κατὰ ταὐτὸ τῶν ὡρῶν τὸ χαριέστατον ἀπαίρει μὲν ἐκ τῆς κορυφῆς ταύτης ἵππους ἐντυναμένη—εἶπεν ἄν τις ποιητικῶς—, καταίρει δὲ εἰς ἐκείνην τὴν κορυφήν, καὶ εἰσδύνει τὸν νεών· καὶ τήν τε πανήγυριν ἐπιτελέσασα, καὶ δωρησαμένη τοῖς συνεληλυθόσιν ἃ δωρεῖσθαι νόμος αὐτῇ, καὶ μικρὰ ἄττα ἐφησθεῖσα τῷ χώρῳ, ταύτην ἵεται πάλιν. Οὐδ’ ὡς τοῦτον καταλείψασα τὸν νεών· ἁγίων γὰρ ὀφθαλμὸς οὐκ εἴργεται, οὐ κωλύεται μὴ οὐκ ἐπὶ πάντα φοιτᾶν ἀεί τε καὶ εἰς ὁπόσα καὶ ὁπότε βούλονται χωρία καὶ ἔθνη καὶ ἄστη καὶ πόλεις.

Τούτου φασὶ καὶ Ταρσοὺς τὴν μεγάλην πόλιν τυγχάνειν τοῦ θαύματος, τοῦ θεσπεσίου Παύλου κατὰ τὸν ἴσον τρόπον ἐκ τῆς μεγίστης καὶ βασιλιζούσης πόλεως Ῥώμης ἐπιφοιτῶντος αὐτῇ, καὶ ταύτῃ μάλιστα τὴν αὐτοῦ
τιμῶντος καὶ πόλιν καὶ ἑστίαν καὶ πανήγυριν, καὶ αὐτοῖς τοῖς τιμῶσι δεικνύντος ὡς ἄρα ἠρέσθη τῇ πανηγύρει, καὶ δέδεκται τὰς ἱερὰς τιμάς, καὶ ἀντιδέδωκεν αὐταῖς καλλίστας ἀμοιβάς.

Τὴν αὐτὴν δὲ ταύτην Δαλισανδὸν πολλάκις καὶ πολιορκίας ἡ αὐτὴ δήπου μάρτυς ἐξήρπασε, τῆς τε ἀκρωρείας ἐκείνης ὑπερφανεῖσα, καὶ πυρὸς οὐρανίου δίκην τὰς τῶν πολεμίων ὄψεις καταστράψασά τε καὶ καταπλήξασα, καὶ τοῦ πολιορκεῖν ἀποστήσασα. Καὶ εἰσί γε οἱ μεμνημένοι ἔτι τοῦ θαύματος τούτου καὶ ἐπιγαυρούμενοι τῷ διηγήματι.


'The festival in honor of the virgin martyr [in Dalisandos] is magnificent, famous and well attended, so that people flock to the festival from all over. If, during the holy night vigil of her festival, one keeps watch while standing on the highest peak of the mountain next to the city (which turns its back to the East and faces the West) and remains on the spot without falling asleep, one will see the virgin, high in the air and mounted on a chariot of fire, hastening from one of her homes to another, from the region of Seleucia to that virginal dwelling [at Dalisandos], which she loves more than any other besides us [i.e., the shrine at Hagia Thekla] and which she treats with respect and admires, as it is situated in a pristine and suitable setting.

For [the shrine at Dalisandos] has numerous trees, lofty, thick, abounding in blossoms and fruit, and there are many very lovely springs, with very cold water, gushing out from under every plant and every rock, so to her church. And there is a nice breeze in this place, clear and delightful. The birdsong overhead is absolutely marvelous and able to charm not just the visitor who is already relaxed and at ease but also one who is downcast and distraught. Thick and abundant grass is spread out over the earth in many colors, providing a place to rest for everyone – men, women, children at play, and grazing animals – even for those who want to dance and leap for joy, or who are eager to lay out a picnic and dine in the most delightful setting. There are even some sick people who have been restored to health only by a visit [to this grassy meadow].

Therefore, annually during the most delightful part of the year, in order to look in on her festival and to make haste to a place so pleasant and fitting for her alone, she rises from this peak [in Seleucia] after harnessing her horses – as one might say in the words of a poet – and sets down again on that peak [at Dalisandos] and enters her church. When she has celebrated the festival, and distributed to those who have assembled the gifts which she customarily offers [i.e., dreams and healing], and taken some small pleasure in the place, she leaves there once more. Not that she abandoned her church here, for the eyes of the saints are unhindered; they can visit everywhere, as often and whenever they wish.

They say that the great city of Tarsus also benefitted from this miracle. The divine Paul made an appearance there in the same way, coming from the grand imperial city of Rome, and thereby he showed special honor to his own city, his hometown, and his festival, demonstrating to those who honored him that he was pleased by the festival, and he received their holy honors and gave them in return the most beautiful gifts.

The same martyr [Thekla] often rescued this same city of Dalisandos from sieges. She would appear on that lofty summit, dazzling the eyes of her enemies like fire form heaven, stunning them, and causing them to lift the siege. There are some who still remember this miracle and take pleasure in telling it.'

Text: Dagron 1978. Translation: Johnson 2012. Summary: J. Doroszewska.

History

Evidence ID

E05643

Saint Name

Thekla, follower of the Apostle Paul : S00092 Paul, the Apostle : S00008

Saint Name in Source

Θέκλα Παῦλος

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Collections of miracles

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

470

Evidence not after

476

Activity not after

476

Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Seleucia ad Calycadnum

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Seleucia ad Calycadnum Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Saint as patron - of a community

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Apparition, vision, dream, revelation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Other lay individuals/ people

Source

The anonymous text known under the title of The Life and Miracles of Thekla was written in the city of Seleucia-on-the-Calycadnum in the province of Isauria in southern Asia Minor around 470. It was certainly written before c. 476, which is approximately when Thekla's shrine outside Seleucia (modern Meriamlik/Ayatekla in Turkey) was monumentalised by the emperor Zeno (r. 474-491), since this activity is not mentioned in the text. The text consists of two parts: the first half is a paraphrased version of the second-century Acts of Paul and Thekla, a text which was widely known in Late Antiquity and translated into every early Christian language; this early text was rendered by our author into Attic Greek, and contains many minor changes to the original story, with one major change at the end: instead of dying at the age of 19 years, Thekla descends into the earth and performs miracles in and around the city of Seleucia in a spiritual state. The second half, from which this passage is drawn, comprises a collection of forty-six miracles, preceded by a preface and followed by an epilogue. It is written in a high literary style which distinguishes it among other hagiographical texts, which were typically composed in a low style of Greek. The text was for a long time attributed to a 5th century bishop, Basil of Seleucia (fl. c. 448-468); but in 1974 Dagron demonstrated conclusively that the Miracles could not have been authored by Basil, since there is an invective directed against him in chapter 12. The anonymous author is himself the subject of a few miracles, including miraculous interventions on his behalf in ecclesiastical disputes.

Discussion

Dalisandos was probably in the valley of the Calycadnus river, to the northwest of Seleucia (Dagron 1978: 357, n. 1). 'She rises from this peak [in Seleucia] after harnessing her horses – as one might say in the words of a poet': cf. the Iliad 5.720; 8.382.

Bibliography

Edition: Dagron, G., Vie et miracles de sainte Thècle (Subsidia hagiographica 62; Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1978), with French translation. Translations: Johnson, S.F., Miracles of Saint Thekla, in : S.F. Johnson and A.-M. Talbot, Miracle Tales from Byzantium (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 12; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 1-201. Festugière, A.-J., Collections grecques de Miracles: sainte Thècle, saints Côme et Damien, saints Cyr et Jean (extraits), saint Georges (Paris: Éditions A. et J. Picard, 1971). Further reading: Barrier, J., et al., Thecla: Paul's Disciple and Saint in the East and West (Leuven: Peeters, 2017). Dagron, G., “L'auteur des Actes et des Miracles de Sainte Thècle,” Analecta Bollandiana, 92 (1974), 5–11. Davis, S., The Cult of Saint Thecla: A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). Honey, L., “Topography in the Miracles of Thecla: Reconfiguring Rough Cilicia,” in: M.C. Hoff and R.F. Townsend (eds), Rough Cilicia: New Historical and Archaeological Approaches, Proceedings on an International Conference held at Lincoln, Nebraska, October 2007 (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2013), 252–59. Johnson, S.F., “The Life and Miracles of Thecla, a literary study” (University of Oxford, doctoral thesis, 2005). Kristensen, T.M., "Landscape, Space and Presence in the Cult of Thekla in Meriamlik," Journal of Early Christian Studies 24:2 (2016), 229-263.

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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